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The Alabama Crimson Tide held their first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday and, shockingly, Nick Saban was not pleased with the team’s overall effort. Saban said “we aren’t where we’d love to be or like to be” regarding this afternoon’s scrimmage.
Saban wasn’t pleased with the mental toughness of some guys, and blamed it on guys not doing what they were supposed to do over spring break. It’s no surprise that Saban didn’t come away pleased with the team’s effort in the first scrimmage because that’s how it always is.
He used his time with the media afterward to give the team some extra motivation by openly questioning their effort. He did say that he expects the team to make a big improvement from scrimmage one to scrimmage two, which is generally what tends to happen.
Saban wasn’t talking about the whole team, however, and he did make sure to praise some guys who played well during the scrimmage. Here’s a few notes:
Saban was pleased with both AJ McCarron and Blake Sims at quarterback. McCarron had 4 touchdowns and an interception with 291 yards on 15-28 passing. Sims was 13-19 for 129 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The backup quarterback job behind McCarron is wide open, but Blake Sims seems to be the frontrunner at the moment. He took one third of the snaps with the first team according to Saban. Early enrollee Parker McLeod’s full stats weren’t provided, but it was noted that he threw a 33-yard touchdown pass.
Saban said Alabama was “hit and miss” defensively with some guys playing well and others not. He continued by saying “we don’t have enough guys doing the right things the right way all the time.” Statistically speaking, Tana Patrick led the way defensively with 6 tackles. Trey DePriest had a big day with 4 tackles, a sack and two interceptions. HaHa Clinton-Dix and C.J. Mosley also recorded interceptions.
The kicking game is something a lot of fans are worried about with the always steady Jeremy Shelley having graduated. Cade Foster and redshirt freshman Adam Griffith are competing for the job, but that doesn’t leave fans with much confidence with as shaky as Foster has been and Griffith being an unproven commodity. Saban said that they didn’t get as many field goal attempts as he had hoped, and the ones they did get ended up being over 50 yards. Alabama made one field goal during the scrimmage, but it was not noted who it was made by or out of how many attempts.
Saban noted that Alabama has a lot to work on in special teams, but he was also quick to say that they haven’t worked on those things enough yet to make enough of an assessment. The kick and punt return game was an adventure last season with both Christion Jones and Cyrus Jones fumbling kicks, so getting somebody back there who can field kicks cleanly is paramount. From the sound of it, Cody Mandell had a good day as he looks to become one of the top punters in college football next season.
Derrick Henry had a pretty good first scrimmage with the Crimson Tide, and certainly looks well on his way to playing time as a true freshman this season. Henry carried the ball 12 times for 52 yards. T.J. Yeldon had 16 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown, but it was Kenyan Drake who led the way for the running game. The soon to be sophomore ran it 11 times for 85 yards including a 58 yard touchdown. Drake seems to have the inside track on the No. 2 spot on the depth chart behind Yeldon.
Saban praised O.J. Howard as a tremendous athlete and pass receiver, but made sure to say that he “definitely” needed to improve as a blocker. Howard has the potential to add a dynamic dimension to the Crimson Tide offense next season, but his play will be severely limited unless he makes some serious strides as a blocker before the season starts.
DeAndrew White got the praise of his coach for making a few big plays today, and he looks to have made a full recovery from his ACL tear last year. White was Alabama’s leading receiver with 132 yards on 7 catches and two touchdowns. Amari Cooper was the only other receiver listed in the stats with 3 catches for 120 yards and a touchdown.
Saban said Kenny Bell has been the slowest guy coming back from injury, but also said that he is starting to look like the Kenny of old. He said Chris Black has been fine the whole time. Alabama’s gluttony of receivers will be tough for other teams to deal with in the fall.
Alabama will host their final scrimmage prior to A-Day next Saturday, and then the A-Day game will be on Saturday, April 20th.
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